Veteran Australian journalist Mike Willesee has died following a battle with throat cancer.
Willesee started his 50-year television career with the ABC before high-profile periods with the Nine and Seven networks.
The 76-year-old was known for his uncompromising interview style and willingness to push the envelope.
Tough reporter, brilliant documentary maker, successful media entrepreneur, spellbinding interviewer. A man of complex flaws but enormous strengths, including kindness to those starting out. My condolences to the Willesee family. Vale Old Master. https://t.co/WBCV2B2Q0a
— Hugh Riminton (@hughriminton) March 1, 2019
His famous interview with former Opposition Leader John Hewson on the GST was widely credited with changing the course of the 1993 federal election.
Born on June 29, 1942 in Perth, Western Australia, Willesee was the son of ALP Senator Donald Willesee.
He was first introduced to Australian audiences in 1967 on the ABC current affairs program This Day Tonight.
The journalist’s fearless interviewing style earned the wrath of many of his subjects but also made him an influential figure.
In April 1967 the Holt government decided not to reappoint ABC Chairman Dr James Darling – a move attributed to Willesee’s critical coverage of Holt’s policies on the ABC.
Willesee went on to host the ABC’s flagship current affairs program Four Corners from 1969 to 1971.
That year commercial television beckoned so Willesee shifted to the Nine Network as host of A Current Affair.
In 2002 he was inducted into the TV Week Logie Awards Hall of Fame.
Very sad to report the death of veteran reporter Mike Willesee. Nothing less than a legend. A man of enormous faith & put up a brave battle in recent years.
— Peter Ford (@mrpford) March 1, 2019
Deeply saddened to hear that our colleague and TV legend Mike Willesee has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family. We’ll remember an incredible journalist, tenacious and tough. A loss for our industry. #sn7 #7news pic.twitter.com/frCLuecanD
— Melissa Doyle (@melissadoyle) March 1, 2019
Mike Willesee had one of the best bullshit-detectors in journalism. And was a master of the ‘give them enough rope’ school of television interviewing, as politicians such as John Hewson discovered. A giant of our business. Vale Mike Willesee.
— John Lyons (@TheLyonsDen) March 1, 2019
When a birthday cake ruined a whole election campaign.
RIP Mike Willesee pic.twitter.com/Jbgm9jTsrh
— Wolf, yes that is my name. (@wolfcat) March 1, 2019
When hard questions needed to be asked, Mike Willesee asked them and he prompted and rephrased until he got answers. He helped a generation of journalists to aspire to be great. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
— Sue-Belinda Meehan (@AskSueBelinda) March 1, 2019
— Denise Allen (@denniallen) March 1, 2019